The Crumbling Coliseum That is America


The Crumbling Coliseum That is America

By George Mantor

The horrifying collapse of the I-5 bridge in Seattle in May, one in an ongoing series I’m afraid, is a grim reminder of the true state of our condition…we are dying. There is a difference between pessimism and realism. Badly deteriorating infrastructure is a reality and predicting the future is easy.

I’m not a pessimist because I see in this very real situation an opportunity of not a lifetime, but a nation-time. These disasters-in-waiting should be addressed immediately, and if we did what we must demand of our leaders, we would solve our economic crisis and leave the next generation on a solid footing for their futures and the generations to come.

My fear is that we will not seize upon this magnificent opportunity.

Here lie the jobs that have gone away. Here lies the economic boost that this country needs to fire up production. Think of all the component parts that would have to be manufactured. Everything from bridge supports to electronics would be required.

In order to manufacture and construct stuff, you need raw materials. Loggers and miners go back to work. Jobs would be created in transportation because you have to get both the raw material and the completed parts to their respective sites.

Wholesale trade would boom and consumers would go back to spending. Every sector would grow jobs overnight.

And when we were done, we would have something to show for our investment. We would have built an infrastructure that would be the foundation that would position us to compete in the future.

Rome was once the center of the world. What is left of the ruins of the Coliseum is proof that all great nations eventually destroy so much of themselves that they can never rebuild.

How is the recovery going after the levees burst and destroyed much of New Orleans Ninth Ward?

What about Detroit’s Brightmoor where once the highest standard of living in the world has given way to an urban wasteland with rows of falling down, abandoned housing?

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 26% of US bridges are “in urgent need of repairs.” Don’t forget the massive bridge collapse on I-35W over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis in 2007. That killed 13 people and injured 145 others. Remember that the next time you plan your route.

The number of dams rated as deficient—or those with structure or hydraulic deficiencies leaving them susceptible to failure—tripled between 1999 and 2008. Over a third of the Nation’s dams are fifty years old, a number that will increase to nearly 70 percent in ten years. In addition, bridges are generally designed to last 50 years, and the average bridge in the United States is 45 years old.

We know that the gas pipelines have not been properly maintained and that another San Bruno fireball is about to occur somewhere. In that incident, eight people died, 38 homes were destroyed, and hundreds damaged by the 60 foot high wall of flames that consumed an entire neighborhood. What you may not know is that incidents of death or injury from gas pipeline explosion average about 50 per year. The Pipelines run right through neighborhoods. You can find their locations on-line.

We’ve got levees breaching, dams bursting, bridges collapsing, pipelines blowing up, power plants shutting down, sewage systems clogging, and water mains breaking all over town.

The Coliseum was once the proud symbol of Imperial Rome and its permanence. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering. But, for much of its existence, nobody gave a damn about it and look at it now.

It is often seen as the metaphor for the collapse of Rome. They didn’t really kill Christians there, but at one time, under Pope Sixtus V, they were going to turn it into a half-way house for recovering hookers.

Contrary to popular opinion, Rome did not fall because of wild sex parties. By then, most of the Romans had adopted Christianity. By the fifth century after Christ, Rome was a pretty staid place.

Rome was destroyed by idiot emperors, massive political corruption, cronyism, nepotism, over taxation and a financial crisis which led to inflation and the debasement of Roman coinage. Who does that remind you of? If you said us, you’ve been paying attention.

Perhaps we were a tad too arrogant about “our” country being different, special, better; even went as far as to think we were somehow favored by God. America, God’s all-time favorite country.

Some would want to remind me that we are, after all a, Christian nation. Don’t bother, we aren’t. Wanting to be a Christian nation and saying we are a Christian nation; do not make us a Christian nation.

Christian nations don’t have a million homeless children, starvation, poverty, the death penalty, racism, ageism, sexism, or so much hypocrisy.

We have a nation with some Christians in it and some people who use Christianity to their own benefit. Christianity isn’t something to be proud of or smug about. It is a difficult journey that requires always putting others first, in particular, the least fortunate among us. The way of Christianity is seeking salvation through selfless service to others not through praying and tithing.

We are, in fact, a savage and brutal nation resoundingly despised around the world for our incessant war mongering. At home we have the highest prison population per capita in the world, rampant and rising poverty, and a government of the rich and for the rich who are all getting richer while everyone else is getting poorer.

Instead of bridges and schools we get urban assault vehicles, noise cannons, hundreds of millions of rounds of hollow-point ammunition which because of the Geneva Convention cannot be used outside the US. Those are exclusively intended for us because they rip out so much flesh. What’s so Christian about that?

God is not going to make our problems go away. We have a persistent radiation leak at nearby San Onofre nuclear power station. Photos from inside the plant show that clear plastic sheeting and duct tape are being used to deflect the flow of dripping water. WTF?

Now, of course, they assure us that this water isn’t radioactive; they may be right or they may be lying, as usual. But, the plant has been shut down for months because the piping system which was recently replaced quickly wore out.

It doesn’t matter what they say, the funky fix with the plastic and duct tape is a metaphor for the reality of life everywhere. Things are patched up with duct tape.

Where will the next pipeline blow and torch a neighborhood? Where will the next nuclear wasteland be born? Where will the next bridge collapse, levee breach, sink- hole open up, or school fall down?

What our grandfathers and our great grandfathers built for the good of the future is being destroyed by neglect, and the people who could be fixing it are receiving entitlements instead.

Crumbling. No plan to fix anything. No discussion of infrastructure.

Just Benghazi. Who cares? We assassinated the leader of the country and then armed the rebels. What the fuck did we think was going to happen? It’s Al Qaeda. Remember? They hate us. If I had given them guns I would have gotten the hell out of Dodge immediately thereafter. No conspiracy just stupid foreign policy. We are getting the same result here that we got when we armed the Mexican drug cartels. They shoot us with them.

Hopefully we learned this time but I’m pretty sure we will go right on arming our enemies or the war would stop.

The IRS fought to limit tax avoidance by organizations that don’t really qualify for exemption. That’s the real story. That is what they are supposed to do. The truth is they were partying just as hard as the dudes and dudesses over at the General Services Administration who spent $822,000 at their Las Vegas convention. Your tax dollars at work.

The most chilling reveal is the case involving the Department of non-Justice investigating journalists. What’s chilling isn’t that the government would spy on us; it’s that the media has treaded so lightly on this issue. They should be banging a drum night and day on the first amendment implications. Their talking heads should be sputtering with outrage and demanding citizen support to beat back this blatant attempt to suppress the truth.

The lack of uproar tells you everything you need to know about who the media serves.

Everywhere you look, it’s crumbling around us. The tax dollars we provided have been completely wasted. The danger is real and omnipresent. The real terror isn’t a religious fundamentalist; it is a government that cares nothing about its people.

All of that combined sounds like fiddle music, and I’m getting faint whiffs of the smoke of a distant fire. Something’s burning.


2 Responses to “The Crumbling Coliseum That is America”
  1. This bridge did not crumble on its own. A huge truck with an over sized load was not directed properly through the narrow bridge by a lead car therefore hit the bridge and collapsed the supports above. This was not due to deterioration. Yes bigger bridges are necessary for larger traffic, but it was not due to a collapse due to deterioration. America is deteriorating due to bad politicians, bad corrupt banks and bad corrupt judges breaking the rule of law.

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